April 30, 2004
LOUDONVILLE, N.Y -Matt Walsh's team-leading 31st goal of the season was no doubt his most memorable. The sophomore attackman rifled a wrister past VMI goalie Kelley Deneen stick-side with just 32 seconds remaining in the first overtime session propelling Siena to a thrilling 12-11 overtime triumph over the visiting Keydets before an energetic 350 fans on a spectacular Friday afternoon in Loudonville. The win was the fourth straight for the Saints after beginning the year 0-9.
Walsh started the scoring for Siena (4-9/2-6 MAAC) with his first of three scores on the day, an unassisted tally at 13:44 mark of the first quarter. Each of the Saints 12 goals were scored at even strength. After Tony Cavalero got VMI (0-12/0-8 MAAC) on the board with his first of two goals six minutes later, sophomore Gregory Powell found the back of the net less than 40 seconds later to give Siena the lead back.
One minute later, senior Tom Nally logged his 100th career point with a well-timed pass to junior Eric Morrissey for a goal that gave the Saints a 3-1 lead. The two-goal margin matched the largest lead of the afternoon for either team. VMI's Erik Rohrmann answered with an unassisted strike at the 5:28 mark of the first quarter, concluding the scoring for the initial stanza.
The see-saw battle continued throughout the second quarter, as Dan Wolpert pushed the Siena advantage to 4-2 off a Chris Padden feed 51 seconds into live action, but the Keydets tied things up with a pair of unanswered scores two minutes apart.
With 4:42 remaining in the half, freshman Frederick Stradinger finished a Morrisey pass to account for Siena's 5-4 lead at the break. The goal sparked Stradinger, who turned in his finest performance of the season with two goals and a game-high three assists.
Rohrmann's second goal tied the game less than 30 seconds into the second half, as the Keydets took advantage of a man-up situation that carried into the second half with a well diagramed set play. Nally gave the Saints the lead back temporarily, finding the back of the net after a well executed set that climaxed with Paul Wolpert's set-up pass. But VMI took its first lead with two unanswered goals, the second of which was scored on a fast break finish by Robert Trimble.
Siena seemed to seize the momentum with three straight goals to close the third quarter. Walsh's 30th goal of the season tied things, and Eric Hungershafer delivered the go-ahead score. The quarter ended on a dazzling play by Stradinger, who checked the ball free in the VMI zone, sprinted for the ground ball and laced a side-arm offering into the top right corner of the goal while falling to the ground as the clock expired.
In a testament to the game's evenness, Siena held a narrow 43-42 edge in shots, and ground balls were dead-even at 32 a piece.
With their backs against the wall, VMI scored the first three goals of the fourth quarter to take the lead back. Dixon and Trimble scored, surrounding Steve Long's first goal of the season, and when the dust settled, VMI had grabbed a 10-9 lead. In the final game of his career, Wolpert rose to the challenge in the game's waning moments, scoring both Siena goals off Stradinger assists. The second tally came with just 1:15 remaining after Stradinger wrapped around the back of the VMI net.
The overtime session was well-played, with each team having multiple opportunities to end the game. Freshman David Jalette was solid in net for Siena when it mattered most, notching two of his 16 saves in the extra session. Deneen was up to the challenge with 13 stops in suffering the hard-luck setback.
When Walsh finally did break through, it triggered a euphoric celebration that began with the Siena student section charge the field, and commenced when Head Coach Roger Manion received a Gatorade shower. The four wins are the most for the Saints since the 1997-98 season. The Siena senior class was honored before the game with a special recognition ceremony. The seven graduating members include: Michael Nocerino, Michael Mackin, Craig DeCollibus, Nally, Paladini, Hungershafer and Wolpert.